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4-11: Crisis response team and plans
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Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMS-C)
Resources available through their clearinghouse, including: Basic Emergency Lifesaving Skills (BELS): A Framework for Teaching Emergency Lifesaving Skills to Children and Adolescents.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
National Association of School Psychologists
National Resource Center for Safe Schools
US Department of Education - Emergency Planning
This resource from the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools provides school leaders with information to plan for many emergencies.
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6-23 - Facility preparation for evacuation, lockdown, disasters

Establish physical environment and ground security measures that will prepare each school to respond to fire, natural disasters, attacks, and other crises.


By preparing the school environment and personnel for crises well in advance, lives can be saved, injuries reduced, and school property preserved.


Schools must have a system for which evacuation, lockdown, and other responses to situations are decided. Establish the safest areas on or near campus to evacuate students and staff for various types of disasters (e.g., hurricanes, flood, earthquake, fire, loss of electricity). Have a plan to safely transport students in cases where hazardous chemical or biological exposure requires evacuation that is distant from the school site. In addition to regular assessments of school buildings and grounds (e.g., for fire hazards), provide opportunities for students and staff to practice evacuations (e.g., fire drills).

Plans need to define how each school will be closed to outsiders and how to secure the campus perimeter and protect the building against vandalism. Methods for effective enforcement must be considered, including the presence of law enforcement on campus. Some schools must also prepare to accept people who are evacuated for disasters that occur elsewhere.

Educate staff and students on disaster plans, make the information known and accessible, and pre-assign tasks to members of the staff. This includes training staff how to use fire extinguishers, use communication equipment, and implement other aspects of disaster plans. Develop a system to report violent incidents; to deal with the media; to reach staff, students and families; and to respond to the aftermath (both physical and emotional). Partnerships with various community agencies (e.g., public utilities, fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, health, mental health, and social service agencies) and parents are necessary to develop these plans.

Guidelines for schools regarding crisis preparedness have been developed by the US Department of Education (37). The National Education Association provides a useful tool-kit (69) designed to prepare schools for such crises.


American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on School Health. Guidelines for emergency medical care in school. Pediatrics. 2001;107:435-436.

Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice, American Institutes for Research and National Association for School Psychologists. Safeguarding Our Children: an Action Guide: Implementing Early Warning, Timely Response. Washington, DC: Department of Education, Department of Justice; 2000.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. School health guidelines to prevent unintentional injuries and violence. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2001;50(RR-22):1-73.

Dwyer K, Osher D, Warger C. Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools. Washington, DC: US Department of Education; 1998.

King KA. Developing a comprehensive school suicide prevention program. J Sch Health. 2001;71:132-137.

National Education Association. Crisis Communication Guide and Toolkit. Available at:

Pollack I, Sunderman C. Creating safe schools: a comprehensive approach. Juv Justice. 2001;8:13-20.

Reddy M, Borum R, Berglund J, Vossekuil B, Fein R, Modzeleski W. Evaluating risk for targeted violence in schools: comparing risk assessment, threat assessment, and other approaches. Psychology in the Schools. 2001;38:157-172.

Vulpitta RT. On-site Emergency Response Planning Guide. Itasca, IL: National Safety Council; 2002.

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